New Traffic Law takes effect June 1: what changes

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New Traffic Law will take effect on June 1, 2020. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the changes that this new law will bring about.

New traffic signs

The new Traffic Law brings new traffic signs to Finnish roads. Depending on how one counts, there are about 50 new signs starting June 1. These won’t all appear at once. Authorities will put new ones in place when traffic arrangements require that or when old ones need replacing. 

Here are some of the new ones. 

As we explained in a blog post published this time last year, late spring and early summer pose a particular kind of danger for Finnish drivers. Elk (called moose in North America) and deer are on the move. Previously the Finnish traffic signs have only included a warning sign for elk and reindeer. Now there is also a warning sign for deer. 

There are now new traffic signs that indicated the minimum speed one needs to drive on a particular stretch of road. Whereas speed limits are black letters on a yellow background within a red circle, signs indicating minimum speeds have white numbers on a blue background. Regardless of the minimum speed, you still need to adjust your speed to the weather and road conditions. 

Those of you who have done a lot of driving in countries like Germany or Estonia, know that in these countries drivers do the so-called zipper merge when two lanes merge into one. In Finland, this hasn’t been the dominant practice. Now, the new Traffic Law includes a sign that requires drivers to use the zipper merge. You’ll see this where two lanes merge into one. It can also be used in temporary lane closures.

One other thing that brings us closer to other EU nations is that the continuous solid yellow lines in between lanes going opposite directions will be painted white. Finland is the last EU Member State that has been using yellow lines. 

You can read more 

Thinking about buying a car in Finland? In our “Four Wheels in Finland” online course we tell you what to expect when buying, owning, and driving a car in Finland.

New traffic laws affecting bike-riders and pedestrians 

There are a bunch of new regulations in the new Traffic Law that affect bicycle riders. Here are some of them.

For example, if a road is a one-way street bikes have to follow that rule as well. The new law, however, allows bikes to go both directions where that is specifically indicated with additional signs. 

Starting June 1, bikes should have a red backlight in addition to the white or light yellow front light at night and when weather conditions require it. The light can also be attached to the bike rider rather than on the bike. Also children have to have this light on their bikes. 

A bike lane that is marked as such and is separate from the car lanes now has its own traffic sign. From June 1 onwards the lane is only for bikes and for example mopeds cannot use the lane. 

Using a reflector on your clothes during the night and the darkest times of the year has always been smart. Started from June 1 it’s also legally mandated. The new law states that pedestrians should usually wear a reflector in the dark.

New traffic laws affecting drivers

There are several new regulations in the new Traffic Law that affect car drivers. Here are some of them.

Regulations regarding the use of winter tires will now be related to weather conditions rather than calendar dates. The new law states that winter tires have to be used between the beginning of November and the and of March if the weather conditions require that. 

Drivers can use studded winter tires between the beginning of November and the end of March. They can use studded tires also before and after those dates if the weather conditions justify their use. 

One change, in particular, has attracted a lot of attention in the Finnish press. The new law requires that road users must anticipate the actions of others. They have to use that anticipation to reduce the risk of accidents. They also need to adjust their own behavior accordingly so that traffic flows safely. 

Being right doesn’t cut it anymore. For example, there might be a particularly tricky intersection in your neighborhood which strangers often get wrong. If you know this, you need to take that into consideration when you yourself are at the intersection. 

Parking regulations change somewhat as well. Currently, when parking alongside the street the car has to face the direction of traffic. Starting June 1, you can also park facing the other way. 

Something many of us have been doing when turning has now become legal. When turning into a road that has several lanes traveling to the same direction the rule has been than one needs to turn to the lane that’s closest. Now, turning to a lane that is further away is allowed provided that one can do that safely.  

Turning left to a one-way street

Four Wheels in Finland course

We offer a self-guided online course for those of you who want to learn more about buying, owning, and driving a car in Finland. We just updated the course to reflect the changes that the new law brings.

In the course, we tell you how you can buy a car in Finland safely and what are the legal responsibilities relating to car ownership in Finland. We also tell you what is specific about driving in Finland.

Get our “Four Wheels in Finland” online course now from our online store.

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